Communication is key to every relationship . . . open communication that is. As technologies change so do the ways, styles and expectations of communication. This is particularly true with clients. As a business you can make executive decisions about how your employees are to communicate with each other, but with clients . . . well that is a different story. In many cases they tell you what works best for them and communicating with them in their style of preference usually makes communication smoother and more efficient.
Here are a few tips to consider when establishing communication with a client:
- Be open to working with what works for them and make sure you already have the technology capabilities. It is easy for a customer to question your ability to do a job correctly if you can’t even supply your managers with an appropriate smart phone that allows them to see the schedule and have access to information relevant to that job.
- Texting is not just for teens! Texting is the growing trend for preferred method of communication. Many people use their phone for texting more than they do for verbal conversation. So regardless of what you think of it, be open to trying it. Many messages don’t need a conversation which makes calling unnecessary, but not everyone checks email regularly meaning that it could take too long for the client to receive the message.
- Communicate with clients using their preferred method. You will get responses quicker, minimize communication gaps, and will allow you to meet (and possibly exceed) their experience expectations.
- When in doubt ask for clarification. Digital messages (texting, email, and social media) are very easy to misinterpret so if there is ANY form of doubt, ask for a time to schedule a meeting or a phone call to clarify the information you are talking about. Do this ASAP! This is also true with in-person and phone meetings so make not to blame the new technology for an age-old barrier.
- There is never too much communication! Always look for another way to communicate with your clients about what is going on. Just because you and your team talk about that snafu with your client, doesn’t mean that your client knows you did or what the resolution will be. Even if a delay has been extended by a few hours, send them a quick message to say “hey, we said we would be there by 9, but we just received word that there is an accident and it looks like we won’t make it until 10.”
- Check, double check, and triple check all communications to confirm that what you thought you heard is actually what they said and what you agreed to.